The tourism potential still untapped within pilgrimage centres

As the fourth largest city in the State, Tiruchi — projecting a fine blend of tradition and modernity — serves as a good base for visitors keen on exploring tourist destinations in central Tamil Nadu.

So proclaims the State government's website on Tiruchi Tourism.

Yet a lot of potential has been left untapped, rue a section of stakeholders in tourism and travel industry.

As per a 2018 ranking of the State’s Directorate of Tourism, Tiruchi is listed fifth with the number of foreign tourist arrivals at 2,72,815, who visited places of religious importance in and around Rockfort City.

In terms of attracting domestic visitors, the city is in eighth position — below Kancheepuram Chennai, Ramanathapuram, Dindigul, Thanjavur, Madurai, and Kanyakumari — with 1,93,90,655 arrivals.

Consider Tiruchi’s famous landmarks: Topping the list is an 83-metre high rock, one of the oldest in the world, depicting inscriptions dating back to 3rd Century BC. A climb of 420 steps carved out of a rock leads to Uchipillaiyar Koil from where one can enjoy a panormamic view of the city.

Two other places of religious importance are Our Lady of Lourdes Church, a replica of the Basilica of Lourdes in southern France, depicting a remarkable feat of Indian craftsmanship and stained glass drawings; and the Natthersa mosque, where the body of saint Baba Natharvali was laid to rest.

Tourists spending more than a day in Tiruchi can also visit Mukkombu, an excursion centre 18 km from the banks of the Cauvery and the Kollidam. Also called Upper Anicut, Mukkombu, which is a shady spot of greenery, can be a favourite spot for tourists all ages. To a lesser extent, Pachamalai, located 80 km away is a must for those fascinated by nature and trekking.

On the profile of foreign tourists visiting Tiruchi, most of them are of Indian origin settled in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and other Asian countries, says Suresh, a tourist guide.

Tourists from European countries may not exceed 10,000, he points out.

Improvement in tourism infrastructure will alone pave way for increase in numbers of tourist arrivals from European and other non-Asian countries.

For instance, tourists from European countries wonder why there is no inclined elevator for Rockfort that will be of convenience for elderly visitors. They also look for clean toilets and comfortable parking facilities. These are some of the grey areas that can be rectified.

The Indian Institute of Management-Tiruchi had also mooted the idea of cable car facility for Rockfort to increase tourist footfalls.

The proposal must be considered in right earnest by policy makers, say representatives of travel agencies.

The Confederation of Indian Industry, Tiruchi Zone, expects the State government to step in to improve tourism infrastructure.

Increasing the number of domestic and international flight destinations will also help in more tourist arrivals, says M.A. Aleem, Advisory Commmittee Member, Tiruchi International Airport.

A package tourism concept must be initiated to enable people to visit temples in and around the city. Likewise, the Cauvery river embankments must be beautified, he adds.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 2:51:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/the-tourism-potential-still-untapped-within-pilgrimage-centres/article30335258.ece

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